Group seeks new basketball courts at Bullard Park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2022 at 7:57 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: The basketball hoop at Bullard Park is pictured in this photo from Aug. 4, 2015. A group is pushing for two new basketball courts at Bullard.

ALBION – A group of community volunteers, including former Kendall and Syracuse University great Roosevelt Bouie, are pushing for two new basketball courts at Bullard park.

Bouie said he learned the game playing as a kid at Bullard, often against tough competition from Albion, Brockport, Batavia and Medina.

Bouie also worked during the summer at Bullard as a park supervisor. It was his first job.

“I owe quite a bit to Bullard park,” Bouie said on Friday during a Zoom call with others working on the project. “It used to be the mecca of basketball.”

The current court was described as decrepit without any upgrades in at least 30 years. The surface is cracked and heaves in places. The same basketball pole and hoops “have been there forever” and the hoops are tipped, said Tim McMurray, one of the volunteers working on the new courts.

McMurray said the current court has too much heaving and is in too rough of shape to be patched up.

Bouie and the community volunteers want to have two new courts and they would be in an area close to Route 31 at a former skating rink and skateboard area, the part of a parking lot with blue paint. Their plan includes an 8-foot-high perimeter fence. There would also be “breakaway rims” that flex back up when there is a slam dunk.

The project could be about $100,000, McMurray said. The group has the Village Board’s blessing to look into grants and support from foundations.

“I think it would be great,” Mayor Eileen Banker said today.

The board has already said it would support having new courts near the front of the park by Route 31.

The village and the community group have Orleans County United Way grantwriter Matt Holland looking into funding options for the project.

The local group also is planning fundraisers. One includes having Bouie, who is nearly 7 feet tall, shoot hoops with people during the Albion Strawberry Festival in June.

File photo: Roosevelt Bouie attended a charity basketball in Kendall in March 2015 when Holley and Kendall teachers played each other.

Bouie said he could see Bullard again becoming a big basketball venue, especially for 3-on-3 tournaments and those events could raise funding for ongoing maintenance of the courts.

Bullard has recently received about $800,000 in upgrades with a splash park, playground equipment, amphitheater, and utility building with bathrooms.

The basketball court hasn’t been touched in more than a generation. That space could be used for parking, especially for events at the amphitheater, the committee said.

The group stressed that the Albion community lacks outdoor courts. There aren’t any at the school campus.

The community group wants to have an engineer assess the old rink and skate park to see if that surface can be salvaged for a basketball court or if it needs to be torn out and a new surface put down.

Susan Oschmann, one of Bouie’s Kendall classmates, recently moved to Albion and is pushing the new courts. She noticed the lack of courts in Albion especially when the parks were closed for several months in 2020 in the earlier days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All I hear is complaints about the youth,” Oschmann said. “But as adults and taxpayers it is our responsibility to put in the effort to give them something to do.”

She wants to see more recreational opportunities for children and residents in Albion. She is surprised there are so few outdoor courts in the community.

Others besides McMurray, Bouie and Oschmann in the effort so far include Steve Mowers, CRFS president; John Grillo, recreation director; and Holland, the grant writer.

Bouie is in the Syracuse University Hall of Fame and his number 50 has been retired by the Orange. He led the team to a record of 100-18 from 1977 to 1980. Bouie was a first-team All-BIG EAST Conference selection in 1979-80. He was picked in the second round of the 1980 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. Bouie instead chose to play professionally in Europe for 13 seasons.

He has moved back to Kendall. The school retired his jersey in June 2012, the first one picked by Kendall with the recognition.

Bouie was a force for Kendall in the mid-1970s when the school won five straight sectional titles. Kendall had a record of 65-1 during his sophomore, junior and senior years, including 55 straight wins during one stretch.

Bouie said he traces his basketball origins to playing at Bullard.

“That’s where it all started for me,” he said.